Shenandoah Down Under

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 53

All good things have to come to an end, and in  this final, elegiac bittersweet episode of Shenandoah Down Under Rob and Mob follow the story of the Shenandoah to where so many good stories end, the courtroom. First, Mob recounts the history over 53 episodes of this now award winning podcast*, Shenandoah Down Under. Rob follows up with the final bit of the story, as much as any story ever ends. This episode examines the history of the Alabama Claims tribunal, that met in 1872 to try and resolve legal liability for the depredations of the confederate raiders. Why does the Hotel-de-Ville in Switzerland  have sloping ramps instead of staircases? Where is the worlds longest wooden bench? Why was Sir Alexander Cockburn considered insane by Charles Francis Adams? Find out on this weeks (maybe) final episode of Shenandoah Down Under, the podcast with more Shenandoah than any of the others.


*WARNING. Listening to a history podcast about the history podcast itself may cause dizzyness in listeners intolerant of metaphoric recursion

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 52

In this, the 52nd and final episode in the ‘regular season’ of the Shenandoah Down Under podcast, Rob and MOB discuss the fate of the officers of the Shenandoah after the American Civil War (we’ll go on to discuss the ruinously expensive Alabama Claims in our forthcoming “Christmas Special”)

Branded as “pirates” and unable to return the US, heading south of the border proved to be a popular option. Fortunately for Mr Whittle and his fellow sailors, their comically unsuccessful attempts at farming in Argentina only had to last until lobbying in the halls of Washington DC finally got them all reprieves.

Which officers later became lawyers with rather more success? And which Captain was later recruited by the Maryland State Fisheries, finding glory at last in the so-called “Maryland Oyster War”? Did the oyster pirates flee in terror from the grizzled Confederate veteran as he attacked their boats with a bow-mounted howitzer?

Find out in this end-of-season episode of Shenandoah Down Under, the one where Captain Waddell says for the final time “burn them, burn them all!”


Shenandoah Down Under Episode 51

At last, after its 13 month circumnavigation of the globe, the CSS Shenandoah returns to Liverpool! The Confederate flag is lowered for the final time and the ship is taken into the charge of the British Customs Office. With the American Civil War back home now over for many months, its reappearance is something of an embarrassment for everyone.

While the British government tries to figure out what to do with the ship and its crew, what do the Shenandoah’s Officers do to their Customs Officer captors? If your answer is get them so drunk that they go to sleep in the lee scuppers, then you have been paying attention!

And so the voyage of the Shenandoah ends, with one last act of farce, as an English Naval captain comes on board and asks all of the obviously ethnically diverse crew if they are Southerners, for if they are they’ll be allowed to go free. All to a man answer (attempting as best they can in Good ‘ol Boy southern accents) “Yes”, and so are allowed to leave, whistling Dixie…

…and in next week’s episode, we’ll recount the multifarious fates of the Confederate pirates, most of whom do not return to American for many a year; the ignominious end of the CSS Shenandoah itself; and why the Shenandoah’s “treaty offensive and defensive with the whales” meant we still have whales to protect today.

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 50

All things come to an end, and the 50th episode of Shenandoah Down Under sees the end drawing very close… months after the war has ended, the last Confederate cruiser slips quietly into into English territorial waters, and is therefore unlikely to be taken by a US gunboat.
This means the ship’s company can be paid off. But instead of the “buckets of gold” promised by Captain Waddell at the beginning of the adventure, each man receives the princely sum of one dollar for every seven owed. Executive Officer Whittle’s journal receives its last forlorn entry on this news, but Surgeon Lining remains an ever-reliable source of both gossip and medical details. And what of Sergeant Canning, the mysteriously ailing Englishman and putative survivor of Shiloh? Will he breath his last, just as they are returning to his homeland? Find out in this significant episode of Shenandoah Down Under.

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 49

Illness and death haunt the CSS Shenandoah in this week’s episode, as William Bill the Hawaiian and Sergeant Canning the mysterious Englishman lie on their deathbeds. The very skies seem to bear witness to the despair of the crew as a total eclipse of the sun blocks out even the light of day.

Poor William Bill is suffering from final stages of venereal disease, while Mr Canning is slowly succumbing an unhealed bullet wound which he claims he suffered at Shiloh. Will Canning ever see his English wife again? Did he care, given she wasn’t with him when he joined the ship in Australia and he never talks about her? Will the Confederate flag be lowered for the second-last time to mark the death of a shipmate? Find out in this week’s episode of Shenandoah Down Under, where the moon eats the sun and a Hawaiian dies far from home under a strange and defeated flag.

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 48

Oh dear, in this new episode, the feuding on board the ship has reached new heights, with Surgeon McNulty calling Mr Blacker an “English Irish Orangeman”, and thereby deftly uniting race and religion in one deadly insult.

Can things get worse? Can they ever! When Executive Officer Whittle tries to remonstrate with the drunken McNulty, McNulty “shows him his pistol” and there is a physical altercation. This can only mean one thing between gentlemen, and that is a duel (of course if McNulty was an ordinary crewman XO Whittle would have cheerfully had him triced up in irons and a gag, so it is good to be a gentleman after all…)

As if this was not enough for one episode, Rob finally delivers on his promise to describe how to measure the height of an iceberg using a sextant. To use this method you need one or more icebergs, a sextant, a moving ship, and a knowledge of trigonometry.

As Rob admittedly has none of these things the result is something of a thought experiment; however he does also describe an old loggers’ trick for working out if a tree you’re cutting down will fall on your house, using only your arm and a stick. What is the essential requirement for the length of the stick? Find out in the 48th episode of Shenandoah Down Under, aka Confederate Pirates Save the Whales, the one where men show their pistols (to other men).

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 47

As the CSS Shenandoah heads towards the Falkland Islands, Rob and MOB explain how the sadly deficient wi-fi services offered in one-star German Youth Hostels has contributed to the recent lack of regularly appearing “Shenandoah Down Under” episodes. How good was this wi-fi? About as good as the relationships of the officers and the captain aboard the Shenandoah, where rumour, back-biting, petitions and counter-petitions are all the rage. Will the ship go to Cape Town or Liverpool? (spoiler, it’s Liverpool). What was Captain Waddell’s master plan in calling yet another council of officers? Which officer has challenged Executive Officer Whittle to a duel? Find out in a rather acrimonious episode of Shenandoah Down Under!

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 45

In Episode 45 of Shenandoah Down Under, Rob and MOB are once again very proud to host Barry Crompton of the American Civil War Round Table of Australia, and there is a a typically wide-ranging discussion, largely concerning the various primary and secondary sources used to research the CSS Shenandoah. Barry talks about a couple of new books about the voyage, and also some of the oldest – the journals and diaries kept by the officers on board. Whose diary was discovered only this year and has never been published? Who died in Egypt falling off a horse, and who is helping relieve Captain Waddell’s stress with some chloroform liniment and a hot toddy? Find out on this week’s episode of Shenandoah Down Under.

Shenandoah Down Under Episode 44

As the Shenandoah sails further into the Southern Pacific heading for Cape Horn there is trouble aboard for Lieutenant Lee. Surely this couldn’t be worse than hearing the news that his uncle (General Lee) had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House?No, not worse than that, but pretty close, as Sydney Smith Lee is caught smoking on watch. Within a day the Ship is embroiled in dissension, other officers are telling the Captain that they also smoke on watch, and Lieutenant Cornelius Hunt is informing the men that they are only to be paid five percent of their wages owed on the return to Liverpool (which, even if true, is unhelpful).

With this series of direct challenges to his authority what will  Captain Waddell do? Will he start out autocratic and then back down weakly? Will he dig a hole and then just keep digging?. Find out in episode 44 of Shenandoah Down Under, the one with the smoking.



Shenandoah Down Under Episode 43

As the Shenandoah continues through the Pacific on the way back to Liverpool, Captain Waddell’s behaviour grows increasingly erratic, and, to quote Surgeon Lining, things are going “from worse to worst”. First Lieutenant Debney Minor Scales is removed from his watch for the terrible crime of sleeping in, and then Lieutenant Cornelius Hunt is also removed from his command, because reasons. This leaves the ship so short of officers that the Captain takes a watch himself, a very bad state of affairs.

Rob and Mob then quote from Cornelius Hunt’s memoirs of happier times before the end of the war, when the Shenandoah captured the Abigail and it’s tremendous quantity of alcohol. On that occasion Captain Nye of the Abigail asked why the Shenandoah was so far north, and got the following reply:

“Why, the fact of the business is, Captain,” replied the officer, facetiously, ” we have entered into a treaty offensive and defensive with the whales, and are up here by special agreement to disperse their mortal enemies.”

What pretty sentiments from men now driven to bickering and fighting. Will the officers of the Ship pull themselves together? Find out in this weeks episode of Shenandoah Down Under.